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PROJECTS BLOG 07/27/2009

Antelope Can Run Free- Thanks to BWB Volunteers

Nathan, Mishka, and Chaos (Left to Right) helped pull 10 miles of fence in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. Their efforts will clear the way for Bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope, and other animals to literally roam free across the land.

On June 20, volunteers of Burners Without Borders joined over 60 other volunteers and staff from other organizations and agencies near the Nevada/Oregon border, to remove 10 miles of nearly century-old barbed-wire fence in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, primarily to free up the terrain and migratory patterns of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and other animals.

The National Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of Nevada Wilderness coordinated the project, with other volunteers coming from the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and other state or national agencies.

Nine teams of volunteers including kids assembled in the morning, then dispersed for the day to various remote off-road locales in the refuge, to continue the work of previous projects of dismantling various fence lines, as well as work on habitat restoration and protection.

Using a variety of fence-pulling tools, volunteers learned and worked together in tandem as smaller teams on the fence lines, dismantling thousands of feet of barbed-wire fence and fence posts one-at-a-time across rugged terrain, while specially-rigged tractors and trucks then wound up the strands of the barbed wire fence.

Ian Richardson, Ray Leslie and family, Mishka Willis, Chris Neary, and Nathan Heller were among the volunteers from Burners Without Borders.

It was an unusually wet summer and hot day in the Sheldon, with more than one vehicle getting stuck in muddy areas, and with the day being visited with several waves of rain showers, or alternately heat and sunshine.

Locals commented that they had never seen this much moisture during the summer.

There was therefore an incredible amount of blooming foliage, and brimming ponds and water tables in this very beautiful high-desert region of Northwestern Nevada.

Volunteers were at the end of the day treated to a feast c/o Friends of Nevada Wilderness back at camp, and the following day, tours were provided through some areas of the refuge.

Volunteers from other organizations were very interested to hear stories and more about Burners Without Borders, their previous projects, as well as that event off on the Black Rock known as Burning Man.

“The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge protects more than half a million acres of high desert habitat for large wintering herds of pronghorn antelope, scattered bands of bighorn sheep, and a rich assortment of other wildlife. The landscape is vast, rugged, and punctuated with waterfalls, narrow gorges, and lush springs among rolling hills and expansive tablelands of sagebrush and mountain mahogany.

Although established for the protection of wildlife and habitat, the refuge encompasses other interesting features. The remains of old homesteads and ranches intrigue visitors. The lure of fire opals draws miners and rock collectors to the Virgin Valley mining district. Geothermal hot springs create a refreshing oasis in the heart of the refuge. The refuge’s mosaic of resources and public interests generates significant management challenges.”

For further information on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and the June 20 rendezvous, please visit the Friends of Nevada Wilderness website:

– Nathan

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